I would definitely say that this past semester was a challenge for me, but I have learned how to balance my commitments with making and taking time for myself. I have engaged myself in a lot of organizations that are pretty time-consuming, and I also took one of the hardest classes I have ever had, statistics. The grade I received in that class may not have bothered a lot of people, but it made me feel pretty bad about myself and serves as an annoying blemish on my transcript. However, I learned the importance of being on top of my own classes and positive self-talk because of that experience, so I would have to say that I am grateful for it.
My semester was filled with seemingly endless hours spent studying for that class, as well as meeting, after meeting, after meeting. Couple that with the worry of what I was going to do with my summer, and you would find me in my room, a little ball of quiet anxiety. It was probably the first time I have experienced true burnout, and by the end, I often felt too overwhelmed to do the simple things that make me happy, like writing and drinking tea. Because of my experience last semester, I have made efforts to eliminate some of my anxiety by taking a step back from a few of my commitments and making sure that I take time this current semester to feel happy and comfortable in my current space.
All of that being said, last semester was not entirely bad. I made several beautiful friends through my classes to be an ASE Peer Leader, and I am hopeful to see where those connections take me in the future. I was lucky enough to use part of my ELF for a winter ASE to Miami where we learned about human trafficking and violence within the sex industry, an experience that was one of the best weeks of my life. South Miami was very different from what I expected it would be, and I almost felt like I was in a different country. Hispanic restaurants sprinkled the coast and almost every person we met spoke several languages. I knew a lot of the information that we were exposed to, which made me happy, but I found an even deeper interest in the stories of the people we spoke with. It is odd to say that my faith in humanity could be restored over a program about the sex industry, but it really was lovely to see how resilient people can be. That week has made me even more excited to lead my own program this Spring Break.
I am also grateful for last semester because it lit the spark for writing that I used to have in high school. I lost my love of writing in college simply because I already had to do so much of it for classes, but I now have a little poetry notebook. I have been researching different summer writing institutes at Yale and Stanford for poetry and creative non-fiction, as well as scholarship opportunities that would make those programs attainable for me. I have become less concerned with finding something to do abroad for the summer, and more concerned with finding something that makes me truly happy. If those two things overlap, then great! But if not, I will try to be satisfied with my situation wherever I am.
My resolutions for this next semester are to get some sleep, write more, and to figure out what makes me happy outside of my major. I would hate to get so caught up in my major and the path that seems to have been set out for me that I forget that rarely is anything concrete, certainly not my life plan. I may not know that life plan, but I do know what I care about, and that is people, stories, places, and an equal chance at happiness for all. How does all of that fit into an easily-defined box? I have yet to figure that out, but I’m working on it.
Written by: Vicky Anderson